Graphic & Photo Size Guide for Social Media

Gone are the days of creating one or two versions of a graphic, or having a single crop of a picture. In this modern world of advertising we have dozens of formats to choose from across multiple platforms. Luckily, our friends at Postcron have created a handy guide that you can take a look at.

Let's dive into sizing on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Pinterest.

Social Media Image Sizes 2018 - Sync Digital Solutions

The Pros vs The Fair-Weather Agencies


The Pros vs The Fair-Weather Agencies


So, you're thinking of having a website developed, potentially get onto social media, and you're looking for information about this thing you keep hearing about; SEO. The next step is to meet with "pros" about how you can implement these changes in your business. So, you take some meetings. Perhaps you Google "digital marketing agency" or you go old school and ask around. Eventually you get a list of 3 to 5 agencies and freelancers you'd like to meet with. Now what?

We have come up with a list of 5 things you should pay attention to when taking meetings with agencies and freelancers. These are important, because they will weed out the pros from the fair-weather marketers.


01. Websites: Show Me Some Samples

Whomever you are talking to should be able to show you samples of desktop and mobile sites on the spot. Ask for 5 samples of various designs. Those designs should include; informational, graphical, advanced coding, mobile adaptation, and eCommerce. Now perhaps you're wondering why you'd want to see all 5 samples when you don't need a few of them. This is a sure shot way to see how experienced the website developer is. If they have samples of all 5 chances are they have the experience necessary to move forward.

02. SEO

Here is where a lot of agencies and freelancers can prove their honesty. SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. It's the art and science of ranking high on search engines like Google. When you meet with someone about SEO you should ask them a few key questions:

  • Who have you worked with, and can you show me their rankings?
  • How do you charge? TIP: SEO should not be charged monthly. Any SEO company in 2018 and beyond that knows what they are doing should charge based on the goals and tasks regardless of how long they take. Don't get trapped into monthly SEO charges.
  • What is the most powerful tool in your SEO toolkit? Sync's is the execution of connecting through .EDU sites.

03. Ads

Many of the most popular platforms have become pay-to-play environments. Any online strategy needs to involve an ads campaign. Be weary of anyone that says otherwise. There are exceptions with small tasks but if your strategy is broad then ads need to be a part of the plan. Make sure you are billed directly for your ads. This way you can guarantee that the marketer is not taking points on your ads that you haven't agreed to. Here's another great test for your marketer. Ask for an honest assessment of when you can expect to see results from ads campaigns. TIP: It won't be right away. The marketer needs to do several tests to figure out optimal ad output. Without those tests you WILL spend money unnecessarily.


04. Social Media Networks

Social Media Management or SMM is a juggernaut job. A total strategy involves content, ads, multimedia, network growth, interaction management, and analytics. Once again, ask for samples. There should be 5 to 8 samples given for various networks. Ask what the goals for each network is, and which you should be involved in. Find out exact parameters for each of the tasks and also ask why. Lastly, you need to find out how the SMM strategies will fit seamlessly with your existing offline measures.


05. Analytics/Reporting

Take a look at the reporting structure of the marketer. Ask for custom elements if something is important to you. Also, establish frequency. Reporting more than once per month is likely ineffective and micro-managing, but any less than once per month and you'll be in danger of not understanding where you sit with your efforts.

Will My Promotion Fail?

Will my promotion fail? It's a question so few business owners and management staff ask before they put an idea out into the world. You see, I come from the hospitality world, where campaigns are drafted in weeks—if not days—and when they fail everyone then asks, "Why did my promotion fail?" The powers-that-be will often blame the weather, or another event, or some other force beyond their control. They rarely look internally; and the hospitality industry is not alone.

At Sync, we've worked with or consulted on projects for various industries from commercial flooring to condom manufacturers, from restaurants to real estate agents, from nightclubs to night sleep aids. One thing is clear, of those we've worked with, the successful companies ask, "Will my promotion fail?"

You might think that's an odd question to ask before launching a project you believe in but it's actually fundamental. When you think in terms of failure, you think in practical terms.

To make my point I'm going to give you a fictitious project with typical thinking in this day and age of modern marketing and promotion.

Project Type: Festival for Canada Day.

The Idea: Throw a festival outside of a hospitality venue on Canada Day that brings in a few headlining acts that seem popular, several local entertainers, and feature a beer garden, as well as VIP section. The festival will also have large adult games such as body balls.

The Audience: A lot of people like music and beer, so them.

The Message: Big block party with ____________ entertainers. Come.

The Execution: Let's pump out some social media posts, and get our staff to talk about it.

The Timing: Canada Day is July 1st. Let's start pushing out information in May at some point.

The Buy-In: We'll tell staff they are required to promote, and we'll make sure to go after the fans of the acts.

The Follow Through: We made our money, or not ... either way, let's just keep on going.

Now for the "Will My Promotion Fail?" Version.

Project Type: Festival for Canada Day.

The Idea: Throw a festival outside of a hospitality venue on Canada Day that brings in a few headlining acts that are popular, several local entertainers with clout for the type of marketing we'll be doing, and feature a beer garden, as well as VIP section. The festival will also have large adult games such as body balls.

The Audience: Do people actually like the acts we're bringing in? We'll examine this by looking at their demographics on Google and Facebook ad platforms. This will tell us how many dedicated fans there are. Will my local entertainers bring in customers? This is easy to figure out by examining their social media. You don't want to look at their follower count exclusively though. Instead you want to look at how the followers interact with their promotional posts. Now we have to examine of those people that support those acts, do they care about a beer garden? Do they have enough money to justify spending time on a great VIP section? Are they interested in adult games? You'll want to poll the audience before even thinking of continuing.

The Message: Instead of just telling people what you're doing, and to come, you need to think of more reasons for them to show. It's always good to have at least 3 selling points for small promotions, and at least 5 for large promotions. If you did your research in step one, then you're just adding a bit of value to seal the deal. If your audience does want adult games, will they pay or should you offer them free? If you're going to have a large VIP section, what comes with it? In this world of digital marketing you can't pound the same message for the life of the campaign. You need to release new information regularly. Get your potential customers excited!

The Execution: I know this might be kinda old fashioned of me, but it's probably best that you prepare a marketing plan. I know, so much work, right? However, a marketing plan forces you to ask yourself the tough questions in all aspects of promotion from financial to the nitty gritty marketing ideas.

The Timing: On average, small promotions need 6 weeks to really get the traction you're looking for based on most reports. Large promotions require 6 months or more. Canada Day is a very competitive holiday. Think this through. Can you give yourself the time needed to put together an awesome festival, and are your offerings attractive enough to gain the critical mass needed on a day with attractions on every street corner? Maybe the idea is better suited to a day when there isn't so much going on. Remove ego for a moment and think.

The Buy-In: Don't require your staff to buy-in; throw an event that you know they'll get behind. Ask those involved for ideas, and actually implement some. Make this promotion fun for them. If the buy-in from your team is natural, so to will their effort be.

The Follow Through: In this day and age there is no excuse for not acquiring data. If you're selling tickets, you should have emails. If not, have someone at the event collecting contact info. Perhaps you offer a prize for someone giving up their details. After every event you should follow through with a thank you, ask for feedback, and show your customers you care. It's also a good idea to ask them for any media they shot while at the event. Trust me, show them some love and it'll be much easier to sell to them next time.

So ...

  • Do people actually care about my acts?
  • Do I have the right team?
  • Are my offerings right for my audience?
  • Do I have enough sales points?
  • Have I really thought through the marketing plan?
  • Have I given myself enough time to sell the idea?
  • Does my team believe in the idea?
  • Do I have a strategy to keep them coming back?

If you don't know the answer to any of these questions, or if you aren't confident in your answers, STOP! That's how people lose money. I've done it, you've done it, Mark Zuckerberg has done it. However, if we just take the time to think before we jump perhaps we won't end up landing on rocks.

The Perfect Promotion: According to 1,200 Facebook Users

Sync Digital Solutions - 2018 Survey

Every year around this time we complete a poll of roughly 1,200 users on a social media platform. For 2016 - 17, we set out to learn what makes a user click on an ad. For 2015 - 16, we learned that while video may get more views, if you want to make a point that can be digested and remembered, then you want to produce a winning graphic. For 2017 - 18, we set out to determine what the perfect promotion looks like.

Here's who we polled:

  • 1,200 Facebook users.
  • 50% Male, 50% Female.
  • 20% 18 - 28, 20% 29 - 40, 18% 41 - 50, 7% 51+, 45% Unknown
  • 1,000 users were consumers.
  • 200 users were marketers, promoters, agency leads, and business owners.

The questions that we asked of consumers:

  1. What drives you to make a purchase for an event online? Service? Product?
  2. What is the optimal amount of time you need to know about the event, service, or product in order to make a purchase?
  3. What mediums influence your purchases most?
  4. How much does peer visibility matter in your purchasing decision?
  5. What kind of content will drive you to make a purchasing decision?

The questions that we asked of marketers, promoters, agency leads, and business owners:

  1. How much do you spend on average each month for a single event, product, or service campaign?
  2. What do you consider good total online ROI?
  3. Rank these online platforms by effectiveness for your single campaigns; Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, and LinkedIn.
  4. How much time do you usually give a promotion online?
  5. When marketing an event, service, or product, what content do you typically use?

Consumer Answers

What drives you to make a purchase for an event online? Service? Product?

The top 3 answers to this question covered 97% of responses; attached to celebrity or meaning, peers getting involved, and a creative approach. When asked about celebrity or meaning the respondents said that celebrity culture is alive and well, so having a celebrity as a part of the experience is key to getting their attention. Short of celebrity, meaning is important. Meaning is defined in this case as the event, service, or product providing a unique entertainment or educational experience that triggers curiosity or fills a need. Regarding creativity; text posts won't do, using the same graphics over and over won't do, and not having a unique hook is detrimental to success.

What is the optimal amount of time you need to know about the event, service, or product in order to make a purchase?

Interestingly, the responses for our 3 classes of purchases were very different. For an event, respondents said they would like to hear about an event a few months out and then get reminders that probe them to finally buy. For many the decision to go out is quite involved; time off work, organizing people to attend with, perhaps finding an outfit, planning more around the event to maximize time out, and deciding on logistics. This applies to large events such as an arena concert or big play. For smaller events, the optimal time for promotion is 7-weeks. Consumers felt that this was enough time to hear about, be reminded about, and plan for a small event. However, consumers did state that with smaller events such as club shows or small productions, those in charge of marketing must be aggressive because they don't care as much about attendance, and will likely make a purchasing decision at the last minute.

A stat that shocked us was the lead time for a product or service purchase. Of those that responded, well over 80% said their purchasing decisions in this case are generally within an hour of seeing the product or service online or identifying the need for the purchase. This speaks to the power of the internet. Many said they are online looking for something to do, so when they see a product or service that interests them, they will do the research on the spot and make a decision. Large purchases though, are a different story. Anything over $150 requires thought and consultation. This is why remarketing is so important, because each respondent said that without a reminder to investigate the potential purchase they will likely forget and move on to something else.

What mediums influence your purchases most?

By order of importance:

  • Facebook
  • Word of mouth
  • Google
  • Instagram
  • Pinterest

How much does peer visibility matter in your purchasing decision?

Through this poll we have identified peer visibility as the #1 factor to drive a purchasing decision when it comes to events, products, and services. You only need look at the previous answers to see why. In the vast majority of decisions, a purchase can fall flat if a peer is disengaged. Think about it; if your go to friend isn't interested in the event you want to attend, you'll likely plan something else. If trusted sources tell you a product fell short of expectations, you're likely to find an alternative. If a service isn't as advertised, and the word of mouth gets out, you're likely sunk.

71% of respondents said they are more likely to interact with an advertisement if a friend has interacted or if a friend brings it to their attention. This is why likes, comments, and shares are so important in this modern world of marketing. It also helps identify why TV, print, and radio are no longer effective sole means of advertising. There is very little peer interaction.

What kind of content will drive you to make a purchasing decision?

These answers may surprise you:

  1. An Appealing Graphic: Appealing is defined as having a beautiful design with easy to read text, that is straight to the point. This tells us that marketers should be making text pop from the background, following design trends that work with branding instead of sticking to staunch branding, and say it in as few words as possible while being very direct.
  2. Photos of Peer or Celebrity Interaction: Putting those that people identify with in your ads will drive sales.
  3. Video: There is a caveat here; the video has to be under 1m 30s. Through the poll and analyzing data we have found a nearly 80% view rate drop off on videos over 1m 30s unless the content is news. Some other notes: the video must be funny, emotional, or dramatic, it must contain b-roll, and you'll get more views if a man is speaking about serious subjects or a if a woman is presenting something emotionally or comically driven.
  4. Quality Google Listing: A Google listing with qualifiers, catchy text, and call to action (CTA).
  5. Good Reviews: Reviews matter, although we did a poll in 2015 that shows data which suggest reviews matter less in 2018. Many are aware that trolls exist online and have a problem with everything, so they don't trust a lot of negative reviews. On the flip side, they're aware companies do bolster positive reviews as well. The key to trusted reviews is when the reviewer presents detail, seeing names of staff, and genuine language.

Marketer's Answers

How much do you spend on average each month for a single event, product, or service campaign?

For an event, the spend was far less than what would be required to capture the attention of the audience based on current ad numbers. Marketers said they spend on average about $300 on events, while aggressive budgets are closer to $2000. Remember, consumers said that marketers must be aggressive to capture their attention.

Interestingly enough, 62% of respondents said they don't get the reaction online they are looking for with their events. That's not to say that spending more money will solve the problem but there is a clear divide in the numbers.

For products and services, on average, marketers spend about $30/day online. These are great small to mid sized local market budgets, but if you're relying on advertising to get the word out to large local markets or outside of targeted borders then the spend would need to increase.

What do you consider good total online ROI?

Respondents had to think about this question for quite some time. Online ROI breaks down to interaction, response, and action. Marketers are looking for about 10 likes (interaction), 5 comments or shares (response), and 1 message or sale (action) per $20 spend. The majority of respondents were also aware that marketing is about awareness. That said, they look at 35% of their spend as being put towards awareness. So for every $100 spent the expectation (with the right messaging) is 50 likes, 25 comments and shares, 3 sales or messages.

Rank these online platforms by effectiveness for your single campaigns; Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, and LinkedIn.

  1. Facebook
  2. Instagram
  3. LinkedIn
  4. Twitter
  5. Pinterest

It is important to note that the platforms marketers consider most important in order of relevance do not match those stated by consumers.

How much time do you usually give a promotion online?

In general, for events marketers give roughly 3 months for large events and 3 weeks for smaller events. For products and services, they will market these on an ongoing basis. This also does not line up with the consumer data.

When marketing an event, service, or product, what content do you typically use?

Marketers say they try to use video but creating consistent content can be taxing, and their video campaigns are usually not strong. Graphics are the go to, but many say they don't adapt their designs to the platform and weren't even aware this was needed. In general, it would appear that content is not the focus of most online marketing strategies, but is central to success.

Need help with online marketing? Contact SYNC, and let's talk about how we can get you on track.

Written by Jay Hall, Chief Strategist

2018 Focus Spotlight: Email Lists

Email Marketing - SyncDS

Let's face it; most of what you own online you don't actually own. At any point social media services can change without notice. Just look at Mark Zuckerberg's latest announcements:

  • Suppressing pages on the newsfeed.
  • Contests are now seen as negatives.
  • Ads are getting more expensive.

So what is a business owner or marketing professional to do in the face of the ever decompressing social landscape? It's time to rethink email lists. Why, you might ask? Well, email lists are all your own. Your CRM might fluctuate in cost but ultimately email is the most reliable form of communication online.

With that, I present to you the 4 reasons you should start growing your email list (as if you need more convincing).

1 - No Social Ownership

You might think that you own your Facebook fans, Twitter or Instagram followers, or your LinkedIn connections, but it's actually those networks that own the digital presence of those people. Think about it this way:

Let's say you have 10,000 Facebook fans, and you attempt a promotion that you don't see as a violation of Facebook's TOS, but they do. Facebook comes in and bans your page. What happens to all of those fans you spent thousands of dollars collecting? They're gone, and all of that work is for not. Or, let's say in a more extreme case, Facebook dies ... say goodbye to all of your fans. Even a glitch could cost you thousands of dollars.

With email you acquire those names, you are in control of how often you contact them, you can keep useable backups, and the list can be used in multiple ways at your own discretion. Starting to see why email is so important?

2 - The Costs Rarely Increase

Facebook Ads have increased by 11,000% since inception in 2004. The cost to reach people via email has increased roughly 45% since that same time period according to the rates at MailChimp. Think about what might have happened had you focused on both this entire time.

The more emails you collect, the more you pay, but that payment structure doesn't fluctuate wildly with increased competition. Take a look at MailChimp's rates here.

3 - Speak Directly to Those Who Care

When someone "opts in" to your email list they are shaking your hand, introducing themselves, and welcoming a conversation. You have their attention until they "opt out", but unlike social media marketing the only barrier to reaching your email list is the person checking their email and clicking on your message.

Since the average internet user checks their email 1 to 3 times per day, that means your reach is a powerhouse method of marketing through your list, and best of all, it won't be hindered by increased costs by the platform you are running your campaigns on.

4 - People Crave Personal Attention

A Facebook ad is general, whereas email is more personal. You can use merge tags to greet your list by name, and the message is something that psychologically feels more intimate than an ad. The trick is to balance sales with usefulness. Don't always sell! At times it is better to provide entertainment or education, showing that you care about your audience.

Whoomp! There it is. If you're not convinced that email is just as important in 2018 as it was in 2008, well then, let me feed this fact to you. If a power apocalypse were to hit us today one of the first communication platforms the government would work on revitalizing is email. So, start building those lists, nurturing, and backing them up onto external hard drives. You won't regret it.

As a side note, this article shouldn't take away from the power of social media. The fact that this article goes out to many different social media networks proves its power. However, social cannot be the only eggs you carry around in your marketing basket.

Need help with email lists and marketing? Contact SYNC, and let's talk about how we can get your email campaigning on track.

Written by Jay Hall, Chief Strategist

How I Found More Work-Life Balance


I'm not going to say that I've found the perfect balance between work and life, but I will say that I've gotten much better at the art over time. With technology has come more taking our jobs home with us, and more of us burning out—physically, mentally, the patience of our loved one's ... the list goes on and on.

I think a big problem is that we exercise such passion in our work, and find it hard to do so in our personal life as a result. That leads to working longer hours to get that dopamine fix. It became apparent to me that was my problem at least, and here's what I did about it.

  1. To Do Lists: I started creating to do lists for my week on Monday morning, and for the following day the night before. This applied only to week days. I've left weekends open for whatever comes my way. Some times I work, some times I play on Saturdays and Sundays ... it really depends on how I feel. When I'm done my list for the day, I'm done. Sure, I could keep going but I made that list for a reason so I stick to it.
  2. Passion: I stopped trivializing the relationships I was in. That's not to say I was ever disrespectful to my partners, but I didn't date women that I could feel truly passionate about for fear they would get in the way of my work. I also stuck around when the writing was on the wall regarding said relationships. Now, I'm with someone whom I can go on adventures with, and those adventures fill me with as much pride as accomplishing something in my work.
  3. Breaks: There was a point in time when I worked 12 hours straight. I decided never to do that in 2017. Instead, I take meditation breaks, work out, watch a show when my brain is slowing, or just talk on the phone. The breaks re-energize me and give me a boost that has me getting my work done faster.
  4. Vacations: We all know when we're burning out, we just don't admit it. As soon as I feel it coming on, I take a trip. After working relentlessly for 2 months on a project, I took 4 days off recently. It was a small vacation, but an impactful one. Oh, and by vacation I mean I didn't work ... at all.
  5. Identifying Emergencies: These days, we think everything is an emergency. One must look objectively at what is truly important in the grand scheme of things. Answering an email often does not require us to drop everything. In 99% of cases, a bit of wait time is fine.
  6. Remembering Death: It can happen to us at any minute; a pulmonary aneurysm, a heart attack, getting hit by a car, shot at a convenience store. Seriously, it's a scary world out there. So why do we work all the time? What is the point of all this life if we spend it working and not enjoying the world, people, and adventures in front of us? Take a break, and create your own balance because it might all end in a flash and no one wants to have their final thought be, "I wish I had enjoyed life more."

So there you have it; my work-life balance. What's your magical formula?

Written by Jay Hall, Chief Strategist

Facebook Forgets The "Social" in Social Media


I am a huge fan of Mark Zuckerberg's work. Facebook has changed the world, and I believe that he is trying to do good in this world. However, every so often the site makes a decision that boggles my mind to the point where I am left to wonder if the boy wonder even pays attention anymore.

Case in point: yesterday's announcement that Facebook will be clamping down on page posts that shamelessly beg for engagement.

An excerpt from the Tech Crunch article:

The social network giant said today that it will penalize Page owners and people who resort to “engagement bait,” which means posts that encourage users to like, comment or tag people in the comments section in order to gain wider visibility of their content.
The incentives — such as “Share with friends to win a free trip” or “Like if you’re an Aries” — gets content shared through engagement, ultimately helping the post, and the Page owner/author, grow its reach as users interact and it shows up on their friends’ Newsfeeds.

This decision is right up there with 20% text on graphics. It's simply ridiculous that the higher up's at the Palo Alto campus think all businesses fit into their regimented idea of what a business should and should not do.

Facebook, the Dictator

The 20% rule has ultimately led us at Sync to forget Facebook on several occasions and give ad dollars to other platforms. To tell us that one more line of text is inexcusable is to tell us that they don't care about the ad dollars. All told, in 2016, it's probably cost them about $100,000 in revenue, and this year that number is likely double (if not more).

That's not to say I don't understand why they made the rule in the first place; there are some awful graphics out there with far too much text. But, Facebook could simply drop the offenders in the feed because ugly graphics get little interaction, and that is a great benchmark to set as a point where businesses would lose engagement. However, sometimes businesses with ugly graphics get fantastic engagement, so why not let the people have their craptastic poster images?

Shamelessly out of Touch?

The same could be said for this new rule. Facebook hates when we hold tag or share contests. Okay, why? Because it's shameless? If those who make Facebook social are engaging then it only makes sense to let them engage.

Facebook says they're rolling out this feature now, but we've seen the hit a page can take already. What cost $5 with a tag contest in 2016 became a cost of $1500 for the same contest in 2017. This wasn't due to lack of interest; just lack of visibility on Facebook. People love the event and looked forward to it, but because we said, "Tag the friends you're coming with," the post was nearly impossible to get in front of the people whom are interested.

Bottom line, Facebook thinks that it is shameless to solicit a response and get ROI out of an ad. They're just plain wrong about that. Without the ability to create virility, marketers are going to stop spending. Perhaps what they should be measuring is the level of interaction a page has, and then penalizing based on actual faux pas like bashing competitors, soliciting lies, or ignoring their customer base.

What do you think?


Have questions about social media, website development, SEO, content, or digital business management? Sync can help. Just shoot us a message, and we'll connect with you.

Is Facebook the New Big Brother?


Facebook has once again publicly denied that they are the new big brother. Now, I'll assume that you're not a huge conspiracy theorist and try to explain why you—yes you—might actually believe they.

I'm sure you've questioned whether Facebook is listening to your real world conversations. Otherwise, how might one explain talking to your friends about organic soy tea and then seeing an ad for that very obscure product on Facebook within days, sometimes hours?

You quickly consider whether you've ever spoken on Facebook about the liquid deliciousness ... nope. Have you commented on someone's status about it? Probably not. So then, the natural conclusion is that Mark Zuckerberg has a secret facility somewhere in the mountains of Russia live recording all Facebook user's conversations through their phone's microphone, right? Oh, so terribly wrong.

In theory, it is possible. iPhone apps can turn on the microphone at any time without informing you, as a researcher pointed out last week. However, it can only do this when the app is open, and this would also break App Store guidelines. Given that Facebook is the biggest app in the world, it probably receives plenty of scrutiny from Apple and Google.

 Why does Facebook Want Access to my the Microphone?

On both Android and iOS, Facebook and Instagram do use the phone's microphone—like any other app, however the user must explicitly opt in to give the apps permission.

The main reason it does this is so it can record videos, such as Facebook Live or Instagram Stories. However, this is only activated when a person (ie: you or me) has the Facebook app open and deliberately typing a status update. Facebook has denied it is used for listening to conversations and that it does not "tag" your profile with the data, only using it to build up a chart of the most listened to songs.

So, you understand the theoretically it's possible that Zucks and his crew might be evil because as I'm sure you're aware, tapping into conversations to make ad revenue but not stopping the many attacks that have been planned over Facebook is pretty damn sinister.

But, enough stalling. Let's assume that Facebook isn't listening.

What on earth is going on with Facebooks Ads?

You're imagining things, and so many people do it that there's a name for your condition. It's called the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon, also known as the frequency illusion, and it's a concept that existed long before Facebook came around. If you've ever noticed that you learn a new word or cultural reference, only to then see it used constantly, it's the same feeling. It's a form of cognitive bias—our tendency to assign more importance to things than they deserve. Have you ever bought a new car then noticed so many others driving it? Same shite different pile.

There is another possibility. Online advertisements are targeted based on many different factors: your browsing history, your Facebook interests and so on. Even if you don't feel that you've given Facebook enough data to target an ad about renal failure without it eavesdropping on you, its algorithms may well be sophisticated enough, based on a number of data points, to suggest that you might be the kind of person that's worried about your kidneys.

In layman's terms, you see a thousands ads per day in all likelihood, and you search for all kinds of associative data; of course there will be a link from time-to-time. But, just think of all the times that there weren't a link. You can take your tinfoil hat off now.